Study: Urban planning can reduce city’s energy usage by 25%

Des Moines is the most populous city in Iowa with 203,433 residents according to the 2010 Census (Jason Mrachina/Flickr)
Des Moines is the most populous city in Iowa with 203,433 residents according to the 2010 Census (Jason Mrachina/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | January 30, 2015

A study released earlier this month found that efficient urban planning and more emphasis on public transportation can help cities to reduce energy usage by about 25 percent.

The study – which was conducted by researchers from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Yale University, and the University of Maryland – examined 274 cities around the globe and concluded that if sustainable development and infrastructure is not implemented, the world’s energy usage will triple by 2050. Sustainable development is most important in the Middle East, China, and Africa where populations are expected to rise at the fastest rate.

The researchers also pointed to findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which found that cities consume 76 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for approximately three-quarters of global CO2 emissions.

The study’s authors conclude:

“The results show that, for affluent and mature cities, higher gasoline prices combined with compact urban form can result in savings in both residential and transport energy use. In contrast, for developing-country cities with emerging or nascent infrastructures, compact urban form, and transport planning can encourage higher population densities and subsequently avoid lock-in of high carbon emission patterns for travel. The results underscore a significant potential urbanization wedge for reducing energy use in rapidly urbanizing Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

According to the 2010 Census more than 80 percent of the U.S. population live in urban areas while more than half of the world population lives in cities, a number that is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2050.


On the Radio: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

Photo via UN ISDR; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment explores the findings of the IPCC’s research into climate change, and what the future holds. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Continue reading

Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Climate

Photo by brandoncripps; Flickr

The value of agriculture in the strategy to address the growth in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that contribute to a changing climate was evidenced by the appearance last month at Climate Week NYC by Pam Johnson, the president of the National Corn Growers Association. The multi-day event in New York City was a summit of government, business and policy leaders brought together to build coalitions that can drive innovation and deliver practical solutions.

Growers now produce more crops on increasingly limited arable acres, that they sequester carbon with low-till practices, and that they produce biofuels like ethanol made from corn and biodiesel derived from soybeans emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases than comparable, fossil-based fuels.

To learn more about the US agricultural impact, and plans for the future, head over to 25×25. 

UN report: World Could Run on 80 Percent Renewable Energy by 2050

A portion of the World's largest windfarm. 259 wind turbines over 200 feet tall located in Cherokee and Buena Vista Counties in Northwest Iowa. Together they produce 192,750 kW of energy. Photo by Jim Hammer, Wikimedia Commons.

But Governments Must First Pursue Appropriate Policies, Report Says

UN News Service

Renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind, biomass and hydropower could meet nearly 80 percent of the world’s energy supplies by 2050 if governments pursue policies that harness their potential, a United Nations-backed report released Monday says.

The findings of more than 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that if the path of renewable source is fully followed, greenhouse gas emissions could stay low enough to keep the rise in global temperatures by the middle of the century to below 2 degrees. Continue reading

Climate change coming to Iowa

Check out the Des Moines Register’s online coverage of climate change in Iowa.  The Register’s research looks at the future impact on communities, weather and agriculture across the state.  Here are some of the findings that the infographic showcases:

By the year 2090, a major flood could happen every ten years, according to projections from the National Wildlife Federation.

Crop productivity could decrease because of severe storms, floods and high heat.

The average annual temperature in Iowa could increase more than the global average during the next 90 years…

The Register’s findings are based on the research of Iowa State University Professor Gene Takle and other researchers contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report as well as other reports.